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Tent Week 2024

From Sunday 2 to Saturday 8 June, the Bishop of Guildford, the Right Revd Andrew Watson, hosted 16 events to thank people from across the diocese. From volunteers and community leaders to staff, clergy and their families, there are 100s of people who work tirelessly to transform lives. They are at the forefront of growing disciples, growing diversity and growing community. 

Bishop Andrew said: “The sun shone on Tent Week this year (or at least it kept dry) - enabling us to host 16 events with more than 1000 guests in all. It was good to be able to thank those who work so hard in the life of our churches - clergy and their families, churchwardens, administrators, safeguarding officers, treasurers - and also to recognise those who serve the wider community as head teachers and chairs of governors, chaplains and charity CEOS, Mothers Union members and faith leaders. In prospect it felt rather daunting to be hosting quite so many events - but in reality it was a real privilege to meet quite so many gifted and compassionate people, all committed to making the world a better place for them being a part of it.”

The attendees were treated to food, drinks and a time to meet others in similar roles. 

Making space for everyone

Interfaith leaders pose for a photo in Willow Grange gardens Mark & Anna Paulson address the attendees of the Interfaith gathering at the Bishop's Tent Week

The Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and Ahmadiyya communities, Quakers, the Pentecostal church, Methodists, the Coptic church, and more were represented at the interfaith morning gathering. In all 45 faith leaders were thanked by Bishop Andrew for working together to create welcome spaces for people across the diocese. Mark and Anna Poulson shared ways they have worked in Southall with different faith communities to be beacons of hope and help each other flourish together. Each faith community has a desire to see the whole community of their area thrive, and to be a place of welcome and sanctuary. One such project was training women from different faiths in counselling, this gave a safe space for other women to seek support and helped break down isolation. 

Community leaders

Community leaders in conversation in a large events tent DCI Kerry Loveless addresses the attendees at the Community leaders Tent Week event

About 50 leaders from community groups and organisations joined to hear from Surrey Police’s DCI Kerry Loveless on modern slavery. Kerry, who, amongst here roles, heads up the team tackling modern slavery in the Surrey Police area, shared some of the types of exploitation that are classed within modern slavery alongside the national and local figures. County lines is at the top of the list as the most prevalent type of modern slavery in Surrey, the other types include domestic slaves, sexual exploitation and labour exploitation (car washes, nail bars, construction, etc.) She encouraged those present to use their networks to educate and take action by reporting any concerns with as much detail as possible by calling 101 or contacting the Modern Slavery Helpline or Crime Stoppers.

Eternally known and loved

Attendees at the Listening Well Tent Week event pose for a photo sat around their table Beki Rogers addresses the attendees of the Listening Well Tent Week event

Our greatest desire is to be known and loved. Spiritual Directors, chaplains and mentors offer space for people, take God into places and walk alongside people as they navigate life. Their remit is to point to the God who knows us completely and loves us completely. Beki Rogers, the Director of London Centre for Spiritual Direction, was invited by Bishop Andrew to encourage and inspire 73 of the diocese’s spiritual directors, chaplains and mentors who attended. She finished her message with a thanks: “Thank you for the time, gifts and living water you give. Thank you to those who don’t often hear thank you.”

Hear Here

A cake celebrating Hear Here's 10th anniversary  Bishop Andrew Watson addresses the attendees of the Hear Here Tent Week event

Hear Here, the Diocesan-run project to provide community-based hearing aid maintenance is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2024. Tent Week provided an opportunity to invite and honour all its faithful volunteers with a lovely afternoon tea. There seemed to be a buzz around the tent as the 70 (approx.) volunteers who were able to attend shared stories of the key roles they play in serving their communities.

If you know someone who would love to head up this greatly needed project then do send them the details to the Project Lead vacancy.

Education team event

Attendees at the Diocesan Education Team Tent Week event in conversation in the grounds of Willow Grange Alex Tear addresses the attendees of the Diocesan Education Team Tent Week event

The weather held and it was great to see everyone networking and enjoying the beautiful garden. The invitation to the Bishop's education evening is a bi-annual event, held in his garden which is open to all Diocesan school leaders, governors and trustees. It is an informal occasion with dinner and drinks provided and an opportunity to celebrate the work of our Church schools in the Diocesan family.
Alex Tear, the Diocesan Director of Education, said, “It was good to see so many of our school leaders at the Bishop's Education BBQ event. Thank you to everyone who attended this lovely occasion.”

Parish administrators

Kate Darwent addresses attendees of the Parish Administrators Tent Week event Jo Lamberth addresses attendees of the Parish Administrators Tent Week event

Many of our parishes would not function if it weren’t for their wonderfully hard-working and knowledgeable Parish Administrators, something very much recognised by Bishop Andrew in his welcome. Often the unsung hero, this was a chance for us to put them front and centre to celebrate the amazing service they put into ensuring our parishes run smoothly. Whilst enjoying the coffee and pastries on offer, the 75 in attendance heard from the Diocese’s Communications Partner, Jonny Newton, who gave a crash course on a tool to help enhance their parish communications. Following Jonny, Jo Lamberth, the Diocese’s Parish Support & Finance Officer, shared a guide to Parochial Fees, which are the fees legally chargeable for weddings and funerals. So, it’s very helpful for Parish Administrators to have a good understanding of how they work.


Bishop Andrew very kindly hosted a wonderful evening during Tent Week just for our amazing Parish Safeguarding Officers. The Parish Safeguarding Officer is such an important and busy role and it was lovely to be able to say a huge thank you for all that they do. The guest speaker, Chris Pummell, provided a fascinating insight into the work of the Lucy Faithful Foundation which is a UK-wide child protection charity working to stop child sexual abuse. 

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